HOUSTON, Feb. 19 -- The NBA All-Star Game is cruising at 55. With
high-flying dunks, last-second drama and more celebrities than most major awards
shows, the 55th NBA All-Star Game was yet another high-speed chase. But
there was plenty more going on in the arena than what you saw at home. Here are
55 things you won't want to forget as we enter the fast lane.
Carter dunked so hard, he bruised his wrists.
Ronald Martinez/NBAE/Getty Images
is a new LBJ in Texas. Sure, a former president with those initials hailed from
Texas, but Cleveland's LeBron James scored 29 points, most of them in the second
half, to spearhead the East comeback. When asked by TNT's Ernie Johnson what motivated
him, he could only give credit to former Charles Barkley, the NBA All-Star MVP
in 1991, whose cavalier prediction on TNT's halftime show that the West had it
wrapped is what motivated him.
win for the Eastern Conference extended the gap in the all-time series between
the two sides. Since the first game in Boston in 1951, the Eastern All-Stars hold
a 34-21 lead over the West in All-Star Games played.
At 21 years and 51 days, LeBron James was the youngest MVP in the
history of the NBA All-Star Game. Oscar Robertson previously held that distinction,
winning the first of his three awards in 1961.
Tracy McGrady did everything he could to put on a show for his hometown
crowd. Scoring from inside and outside and led all scorers with 36 points.
The first team to 100 points wins. That was the Eastern Conference.
When they pulled ahead at 100-99 in the fourth quarter, the West never recovered.
Talk about finishing on a high note. Multi-platinum superstars and
Houston natives Destiny's Child spent more than 20 minutes before the game at
center court rehearsing their National Anthem performance. Actually, to be more
specific, they spent nearly all of that time working on the harmony for the final
word of the song: Braaaaave. At the conclusion of the song, Destiny's Child will
be no more and the three singers, Beyonce, Michelle and Kelly will go their separate
7. Like a fine wine,
South Florida dancers only get better with age. At least that's the case for the
Heat Golden Oldies, a team of dancers all over the age of 50. Without question,
these elderly hipsters can bust a move (and hopefully not a hip) and got the biggest standing ovation of
the night from the sold out Toyota Center. Said Richard Evans, one of two male
dancers on the squad, "That was really a tremendous feeling. Really great." The
Golden Oldies are in their second season performing in Miami and perform at approximately
one game a month.
to the Golden Oldies.
During the National Anthem, the United States Marine Corps Color Guard stood sentry as seven flags representing the different countries and
nationalities of our All-Stars. Quite colorful, indeed.
If you think their sweet moves are only on display on the court, then
you haven't seen Gilbert Arenas dance. Not only was he showing off his steps during
the player introductions, but he actually was working on his choreography in rehearsal
and trying to teach his Eastern Conference teammates some steps on the stage when
the lights were dim.
Eastern Conference starters delighted the crowd as they rose up from the floor
with a choreographed dance routine during player introductions. Gilbert Arenas
must have choreographed that one.
"We had to convince A.I. to do it, but he
came around," Vince Carter said.
Western Conference starters were not to be out-done. When they rose from the floor
during player introductions, Steve Nash started a 1980s break dance human wave
that he passed to Kobe Bryant who passed it on down the line all the way to Yao
Ming. How many times do you think they had to practice that one before they got
12. So what was the
Toyota's Moving Forward Moment of the night? It had to have been Heat center Shaquille
O'Neal driving a remote control shoe in the locker room with a little flag out
the back by the heel. With the the throng of working media huddled by his locker,
Shaq honked the horn, announcing "Shoe coming through, shoe coming through."
LeBron and Shaq strike a pose.
Chris Graythen/NBAE/Getty Images
With 215 countries and territories tuning in to tonight's game, 302
credentialed international reporters and 103 telecasters calling the game in 44
languages, the international language really is the game of basketball.
Haven't we been here before? Actually, yes. In 1989, before a record
All-Star Game crowd of 44,735 at the Astrodome in Houston, the West won 143-134
behind 28 points and 9 rebounds from MVP Karl Malone. Pat Riley and Lenny Wilkens
coached the West and East, respectively.
Which NBA All-Star would rapper/actor Ice Cube most want to act alongside
in a movie?
"I think I may have to put Allen Iverson in my next movie," the
star of Friday and Barbershop said. "I actually asked him when he was going to
start acting, and he told asked me when I was going to put him in a film. He is
definitely versatile enough to wear both hats."
With Access Hollywood, Entertainment Tonight and a frenzy of papparazzi
awaiting their arrival, the NBA All-Stars led a star-studded parade down the red
carpet upon their arrival at the arena. And even though the player hotel is across
the street from the Toyota Center, they all arrived by car. Maybe they just asked
their drivers to do a loop around the block.
It turns out that athletes really do use the products they get paid
to promote even when no one is looking. Waiting around to be introduced backstage,
New Jersey's Vince Carter downed his lemonade-flavored Gatorade.
It's hard to forget some of the classic All-Star jerseys in NBA history...
the Southwestern-flavored unis for the game in San Antonio in 1996, those purple
jerseys in Phoenix in 1995... but beginning in 1997, All-Stars wore their regular
team jerseys. Now, for the fourth consecutive year, NBA All-Stars will wear uniforms
created just for the game. The 2003 game in Atlanta marked the return of the themed
jerseys and this year's game in Houston, home of NASA and the American space program,
has inspired a a real space feel.
Cube represents the West Coast.
Ray Amati/NBAE/Getty Images
For the first time ever, players will be wearing an All-Star jacket
that commemorates each of their previous All-Star Game appearances. The jackets
were inspired by NASA and designed to mirror an astronaut’s flight suit.
The All-Stars on the court were not the only in the arena. More than
25 WNBA players in attendance, including a slate of All-Stars including Sheryl
Swoopes, Lisa Leslie, Tamika Catchings, Becky Hammon and Swin Cash. The WNBA is
celebrating its 10th anniversary this season, which tips off on Saturday, May
21. NFL legend Deion Sanders,
sitting courtside tonight, thinks he could field a pretty good NFL team with some
of the guys in action tonight.
"It all depends on what position you are looking
to fill," the only player to play in a World Series and a Super Bowl said. "I
see Iverson as a quarterback, Shaq as an unstoppable defensive end and McGrady
and Vince as your wide receivers. You'd get six points everytime with them by
just throwing them a jump ball in the end zone."
Former President George Bush, the 41st President of the United States,
is so beloved in Houston that they named an airport here after him. Bush was courtside
when the All-Star Game came to Texas. It's good to be the king. Or the President.
"After I had some of these guys over my house when they won championships
when I was President, it is nice that they were able to finally invite me to theirs."
The two astronauts opened tonight's official celebration from 222 miles
up in the International Space Station, sending their greetings and best wishes
to all of tonight's competitors. After all of the high-flying displays tonight,
those two now have some company up there in the rarified air.
As the player introductions got underway this evening, the Eastern
Conference All-Stars entrance theme music was scored by Houston symphony, playing
the theme from 2001, A Space Odyssey. The Western Conference All-Stars entered
the arena to Beethoven's Fifth Symphony.
President Bush takes in the action.
Ray Amati/NBAE/Getty Images
Western Conference All-Star starters and Houston Rockets Tracy McGrady
and Yao players got the biggest ovation during player introductions. Are we surprised?
Not so much.
26. Those of you
at home might not have caught it, but there was something different about tonight's
game ball. Unlike the typical Spalding ball you are used to seeing, with all of
the black channels meeting at the two opposite poles, the rubber gripping channels
were configured in a different pattern and also had a slightly different texture,
giving it more of a street ball feel.
TNT really is dynamite, once again. This was the 21st year Turner Sports
has featured All-Star coverage and third consecutive year the All-Star Game was
televised in prime time.
Rockets and NBA legend Clyde Drexler's favorite dunk of the game: "That Vince
Carter alley-oop dunk was great. He took off from a long way away and I don't
think anyone thought he would make that one. But he did."
All-Star perks? How about your own All-Star-branded flip flops for
the shower. Every All-Star got a pair tonight.
With rapper/entertainers Jay-Z, Nelly, Jimmy Jam, Mary J. Blige, Bow
Wow and Diddy all sitting next to each other and having a good time together throughout
the game, we can safely say the only East Coast-West Coast feud was settled on
31. When you are
visitors in someone's home, it's always nice when they make you feel extra welcome.
That's just what Tracy McGrady and Yao Ming did, by offering their special welcome
to everyone in attendance tonight. As Yao said, "Let's play ball."
Why so shy?
Apparently All-Stars don't like showing too much skin. Kobe had the sock on his
right leg pulled up, Shaq's left leg was covered in a red stocking, both Vince
and Dwayne were wearing dark leggings and Tracy McGrady also had a red and black
covering on his left leg.
Tracy McGrady's flip flops, still wet from his post-game shower.
Tracy McGrady sure likes to dunk off the backboard, doesn't he? Yet
another dunk off the glass for the Rockets forward, this one courtesy of one Mr.
33. The Knicks
City Kids sure get around. After seeing them at the Celebrity Game and All-Star
Saturday Night, the talented junior dance team from the Big Apple was up way past
their bedtime yet again tonight, performing during timeouts.
Allen Iverson must have remembered his conversation with Ice Cube on
Saturday, because coming out of a timeout in the first quarter, he chatted up
Cube's Friday co-star in the front row and asked him if he was having fun.
What happened after Shaq and Kobe got entangled in the lane during
the first quarter? Nothing but laughter all around.
Shaq's free throw alley-oop to himself may have been called a lane
violation, but he was pulled the original move out of consideration for his teammate,
Paul Pierce, who was waiting at the scorer's table to replace Shaq in the game
in the first half.
happens when you have Pistons coach Flip Saunders coaching the Eastern Conference
squad? A mass substitution putting in four Pistons at once. And that's just what
happened with three minutes to go in the first quarter.
The Orlando Magic have a dance team on old-school roller skates, doing
just about everything you could do on a dance floor, but on wheels. Now, that's
39. Actress Julianne
Moore's young daughter has some new friends - the Raptor and Houston's MVP volunteer.
The trio bonded during a timeout in the first quarter and might have exchanged
Deion Sanders thinks Vince and Tracy could be Pro Bowl wide receivers.
now we're moving on up. Chris Tucker knows his television show theme songs. When
asked to take an All-Star quiz at the end of the first quarter, Kobe Bryant came
on the arena vision singing a popular theme song from "The Jefferson's." Not only did Tucker know the show, but he then serenaded the crowd and
finished the verse himself.
to see that the Miami Heat Dancers made the trip.
The legendary Marv Albert, who called tonight's game with Doug Collins
on TNT, loved LeBron James' drive down the right side late in the fourth quarter.
"We compared it to Michael Jordan's move against the Lakers in the 1991 Finals,"
43. Even though he
hasn't played a minute of basketball yet this season, it was great to see Phoenix
Suns forward and past All-Star Amare Stoudemire in the crowd tonight. He is expected
back in the second half of the season.
NBA's Full Court quiz also challenged Eva Longoria with a television
show theme. Dwayne Wade started the Happy Days theme, and the Desperate Houstwives
star finished strong. Good to see a current pop culture icon knows her
pop culture history. Though we might not see her with a record deal anytime soon.
...3... 2... 1. And we have liftoff. Chris Bosh is still in orbit after
his monster left-handed dunk in the second quarter. Mission control cleared him
for flight just after Vince Carter was launched toward the outer rim.
Grammy-winner John Legend, who teamed up with American Idol winner
Carrie Underwood for another classic NBA All-Star halftime show, is a graduate
of the Ivy League's University of Pennsylvania, which means he could probably
figure out shooting percentages faster than most statisticians here tonight.
Shaq and Kobe got reacquainted.
Lisa Blumenfeld/NBAE/Getty Images
During the schmoozing at halftime, Rockets owner Les Alexander chatted
with Nelly about league business. Nelly is part-owner of the Charlotte Bobcats,
but told Alexander he is learning the business and dreams about bringing an NBA
team to St. Louis. Nelly then encouraged Alexander to tell his star forward, T-Mac,
to bring the All-Star MVP home. After his McGrady's 17 first half points, Alexander
didn't need to tell McGrady anything.
The Stars at Night, are big and bright, deep in the heart of Texas.
The All-Stars were certainly big and bright tonight, especially when the players
led fans in a stirring rendition of that local favorite.
Dunk at your own risk. New Jersey's Vince Carter has a large welt on
the inside of his right wrist from throwing down so hard tonight.
It's raining 3's. When you have Allen Iverson, Dwyayne Wade and Ben
Wallace on the court together, all wearing No. 3 for the Eastern Conference,
the official scorer better keep close tabs on who's doing what.
The multi-talented Jamie Foxx was on hand in Houston and participated
in another time out quiz, but instead of answering his movie quote, he took the
opportunity to promote the release of his new album, "Unpredictable."
The NBA family welcomes its newest addition later this year when the
WNBA Chicago Sky tip off. Chicago businessman Michael Alter is a huge basketball
fan and was in attendance with his daughter Lydia. Her favorite play from the
game? Shaq's free throw alley oop to himself.
53. Do you remember...
Last year in Denver, Allen Iverson's MVP performance of 15 points, nine assists and
five steals powered the East to a 125-115 victory. Gregg Popovich and Stan Van Gundy
coached the West and East, respectively. It was the first win by the East All-Stars
since 2001 in Washington when Iverson's 25-point effort earned him his first All-Star
MVP award in a 111-110 victory.
Western Conference All-Stars held a 21-point lead a one point during the game,
but let that lead slip away late in the third quarter and into the fourth quarter.
LeBron James started it, but the Detroit Pistons quartet eventually broke it down.
They started pushing the ball more and Ben Wallace's two blocks on Pau Gasol hyped
up his entire team. You could tell the Pistons were there to win. The East tied the game at 97-97 with
11:20 to go in the game. Hmmm... Maybe that's why the Pistons have the best record at
the break. When he came back to the bench, all of the Eastern Conference stars congratulated Wallace, who was clearly playing his hardest on defense.
"I only know how to play one way," he told them as he sat down.
55. The East looked
like they had it won with a minute to go in the fourth quarter, there was the
scoring machine, Kobe Bryant, who hit two big shots with under a minute to go
in the game to tie it at 120 apiece. Wade then answered with a putback and hit what was
ultimately the game-winner.